Providenciales, 28 Oct 2014 – And an insect invasion is seeing the popular Royal Poinciana trees literally devoured in mere days by a natural predator; the Poinciana tree looper caterpillar. The little insects are infesting areas of Provo now and officials are issuing warnings and advice on how to contain the bugs.
Over the past two weeks the Department of Agriculture has received unusually high numbers of public complaints… the research has shown this happens infrequently; once every 10 to 15 years. The full-grown caterpillar is about 1-5/8 inches long and morphs to a brown coloured moth with an average wingspan of 40mm.
As for what to do… there are insecticides and home remedies including wrapping the tree trunk with burlap and dousing the loopers with soapy water. The tree loopers actually defoliated seven of my own Poinciana trees… the loopers died in the soapy water and from insecticides sprayed by a local pest control company.